Nov. 13, 2013
"If you don't you're not going to be successful," University of Iowa head football coach said Wednesday at a gathering with media in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "Our goal has always been to be a championship-caliber team. I'm not sure we can be the Big Ten Champions this year, but you're always building toward something or you're taking away from something."
Under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have had winning months of November in 2008, '07, '05, '04, '03, '02, and 2000. In those seven years, Iowa won 64.4 of all its games (56-31); in years when they were .500 or below in November, the Hawkeyes had a winning percentage of 50.6 (44-43).
"In pro football you better be good in December and in college football if you're going to have a good team you have to win in November," Ferentz said. "We're in that last part of our schedule. What I'm pleased with is since our last bye week we had a four-game block and our guys competed hard in all four games. We have improved as well; is it enough to win the last two? Time will tell."
"It's going to be what we do with opportunities, knowing neither game is going to be easy," Ferentz said. "We're playing talented teams."
Thanks to its second bye week of the season, the Hawkeyes will be a little less sore and tired when they host the Wolverines. Ferentz said the team will practice Wednesday and Thursday, take a break Friday and Saturday, and begin game-week preparation Sunday.
"It's spring ball for us," Ferentz said of the bye week practice schedule. "We're not thinking too much about any opponent right now, but Sunday that will change, so we'll get a one-day jump."
Ferentz said the health of the Hawkeyes is good with the exception of one unnamed player who could be ready by Sunday. That does not include senior defensive lineman Dominic Alvis, whose status will be updated Tuesday. Alvis has not played since Oct. 19.
"He's progressing but he hasn't had any contact yet," Ferentz said of Alvis. "We'll have to wait and see."
Ferentz spent time talking about Iowa's defense, ranked 11th in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (319.2 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (18.7 points per game).
"That's the key element to it and we're quietly getting better each week," Ferentz said. "We have competed hard defensively every game. The guys are working hard, the attitude has been good, and we're playing solid defense. We're making progress and that gives you a chance in any game."
The Hawkeye offense picked it up Nov. 9 at Purdue, gaining 509 yards, 318 on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock has completed at least 50 percent on his pass attempts in all 10 games with five more touchdowns than interceptions.
"We're doing some good things, and 10 games in we know more about our quarterback than we did in preseason," Ferentz said. "We're doing good things subtly, now the big thing is trying to tie it all together and find a way to make more of a push offensively. If we're going to have a chance in these next two games we're going to have to find a way to pull it all together."